Category: Form and Narrative


The Monster a Proletariat?

In his essay “The Workshop of Filthy Creation: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” Montag brings forward many issues that people are able to interpret and express differently. Personally, I believe the biggest example of Montag’s ideas presented in this essay is his comparison between the working and middle classes as he states,”it bears witness to the birth of that monster, simultaneously the object of pity and fear, the industrial working class” (380). With this Marxist perspective, the monster has a similarity to the industrial class. This is significant because we see that both the monster and the people of the working class both constantly struggle with their lives. When the monster is born/made, it struggles to gain any form of relationships or companions solely due to its hideous physical appearance. The only option left for the monster is to be born into that hideous appearance and deal with the constant hurt, backlash, and burden that weighs on its shoulders. Comparably, during the Industrial and French Revolutions, those born into the working class also had to struggle with their economic status and life as they were always struggling to find work and make ends meet. This idea is important and significant because it is illustrating something that people went through and still do at times. This essay highlights the the social and economic restraints of both the monster and history. According to Montag, the monster is the proletariat as he states,“the monster is the proletariat. History disguised as the novel remains only to be unmasked by the reader.” (389). From that quote, we see that according to Montag, the monster is the proletariat. To add on, I think Montag is letting readers know that the text has many resemblances to history and the issues of production but it is solely up to the reader to find those resemblances and hints. There is barely any insight or reference to the way the monster was made. There is some, but it is barely stated which illustrates the alienation of labor that those of the working class face. I also feel as if he believes Victor represents those of the middle class. In a sense, I would like to agree with Montag about Victor being a member of the middle class. His character is rather selfish. A perfect example of that is the death of his wife, Elizabeth. Victor sends his wife away because suddenly his masculine games come into play again and decides, my wedding night is a perfect night to murder/fight this monster? Throughout the novel, we see that Elizabeth is in a sense owned by Victor. He was selfish in leaving her alone on their wedding night, especially if someone was after him, this highlights his self centered nature. However, I feel as though Victor could also represent the working class too because he created the monster in his workshop yet there was barely any information. It went from the description of his work room and quickly after it was the scene of the finished product. Where was the part in which he was making the creature? It was nonexistent.  on that. I agree and disagree with the author of this novel because I feel as if though the monster went through worse than the working class. I agree with the struggles and burdens, but the monster was less. He was made up of parts other people, he lacked normal everyday bodily functions and features. It is not fair to compare the creature to everyday people who yes, struggle, but their entire existence and life does not. I also feel like Victor could be both a member of middle and working classes. This was rather confusing so I would like to both agree and disagree with this text.

-Rahma Kohin

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Varying Intentions

Written by Cathryn Flores

Throughout the course of the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelly discusses the relationship between the creature and his creator, Victor Frankenstein. This relationship reveals the different ways the working class, represented by the creature, is treated by capitalists, which is represented by Victor. Warren Montag’s essay “The “Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein“, gives a Marxist perspective on the functioning and structure of the story of Frankenstein and his creation. I agree with Montag’s statement that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” because the creature has no real self-identity, and can therefore not be a true member of the working class, but only a sole figure of society that contains no true purpose.

Montag expresses his idea that the creature is the sign of the proletariat’s unrepresentability because of the fact that he was solely created to exist in the world, rather than to truly live in it. This concept is contrary to the idea of a proletariat, which  signifies the working class and their duties to continue the cycle of a capitalist society. For example, when devising a plan to create his “creature”, Victor Frankenstein states that “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelly 57). Frankenstein reveals his intentions for creating this “monster” was for his own personal, capitalistic gain, rather than to give an inanimate object the chance at a life of well-being and free will. Instead, the scientist explains that he will reign as the master of this creature and expect praise and glory throughout this process. Victor’s intentions for this creature do not include the possibility for the it to even exist as a proletariat in society. Instead, the creature is only intended to be misrepresented by his lack of ability and opportunity to reside in the working-class, and is destined to live its life in the shadows of other beings.

 

By Maya Carranza

While reading Warren Montag’s essay, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein”, I came to the conclusion that he was correct for calling Frankenstein a middle class, but was wrong for calling the monster a proletariat. Perhaps, because of Victor’s selfish and ambitious ways the monster was created with the intention to be a proletariat or a worker, which can be illustrated when Victors states, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.” (57). On the other hand,  the monster was abandoned by his creator, was on his own and never ended up working for anybody. However, I did agree with Montag when he says the creature is “not so much a sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability”. This made sense to me because even though the monster never worked for anyone or anything he was in a way connected to the working class. As the story continues, the monster encounters a family living in a cottage. “…I longed to join them, but dared not. I remembered too well the treatment I had suffered the night before from the barbarous villagers, and resolved… that for the present, I would remain quietly in my hovel, watching…” (101) This is where pity is struck upon the monster, just like the working class he is poor, struggling for survival and rights due to the mistreatment he faced, and trying to find a place in society.

In conclusion, I agree with Montag when he categorizes Victor as the middle class but agree to disagree with him when says the monster is is part of the proletariat due to the fact that although the creature did not work for anyone, he was connected to the working class by the way he was stuck in the lower class and struggled to find a place in society.

Warren Montag’s essay, “The Workshop pf Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein”, Montage establishes multiple arguments as to what the creature symbolizes, however, he ultimately writes that he is  “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480). This statement can be inferred, meaning that the creature represents not the proletariat, but he represents the fact that proletariat cannot be understood, especially when you consider the extreme social economic differences that elevated the likes of Mary Shelley, and oppressed the working class. This further draws emphasis to the inhumane differences of socioeconomic classes, as well as a further disdain for capitalism.

The position of unrepresented proletariat is first inferred when the writer established the hierarchy between Victor Frankenstein and his creation. Victor says, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (57). As Frankenstein solely created the creature for his sole benefit, so did the industrial revolution with the creation of the working class. And the tone of innocence that is present within the quote, with words such as ‘bless’, ‘happy’, and ‘excellent’ could perpetuate the naivety that people hold to the idea of “progress”.

As the story continues, the conflict between Victor and the creature intensifies. The creature says, “I expected this reception, … All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us”(92). The monster, through his sharp and dramatic word choice helps project an image of injustice: his creator subjects him to terrible punishments. And in context of Marxism, this analysis of creator/creation can be neatly applied to the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. And through careful analysis, there is some sort of foreshadowing in the quote, with “… to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us”. Equality can only be achievable through the destruction of the will of the proletariat, or the destruction of the bourgeoisie.

-Isaac Gallegos Rharry potter frankenstein

Distance

When Montag concludes that the creature is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” I believe this section of Montag’s essay means that the creature does not really give sight that it could possibly represent the working class and all its struggles but rather is not really viewed in that point of view. So the creature has the hidden background that it could possibly be the working class but is not viewed as that by the readers which then shows the unrepresentability of the working class in the character of the creature.

However, Montag’s essay was a bit difficult to read but I do see where Montag’s interpretation of the characters in Shelley’s novel comes from. Although, I do feel like there are a lot of key factors to think of when considering the monster as the proletariat. For example, the creature was created by a man of a higher class standing or the creature being incredibly smart by teaching himself. Most, if not, all the working class could not afford education, leading them to become uneducated. Another thing is the word distance and solitude that constantly popped up in Montag’s essay and all that came to my mind was the distance that people place themselves in their status’. Such as the middle-class, the working-class and so forth. Also, the distance that science places people at such as Frankenstein going into solitude or becoming “sick” after his creation. I found it interesting that Montag placed science as its own category rather than connecting it to the middle-class.

By: Carmen Ibarra

 

In Warren Montag’s The “Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein, he describes both of the different struggles went through by Victor (a middle-class capitalist) and his creation (the oppressed working class). Montag concludes his view point on the subject by voicing that the Creature was not so much a proletariat, rather unrepresented. After reading, I came to the conclusion that the Creature is in fact not the mere image of the working class because Victor, its creator, seems to fit this image much more; although his social status is undoubtedly higher than that of a proletariat.

It is true that Victor’s creation is viewed as being part of the oppressed working class because of the life it lead on. Abandoned and rejected everywhere it went, the Creature mirrored several struggles that proletariat’s face due to their poor social standing. However, the monster is much more absent to the working class than a part of it. Montag explains how, “the narrative (Frankenstein) suppresses all that is modern in order to render this being inexplicable and unprecedent, a being for whom there is no place in the ordered world of nature” (480). In other words, because the Creature was ultimately written with the intention of being isolated from the world, it was unable to take on any social roll.

Now, despite Victors obvious social status, I believe that he relates more to the image of a proletariat than his creation. The reason behind it being, his dedication to learning and ultimately “creating a race that would worship him as a master” (475-476). This dedication was what lead him to become a slave to his work, killing himself day in and day out to one day finally succeed. This can be seen when Victor says, “Winter, spring, and summer passed away during my labors; but I did not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves-sights which before always yielded me supreme delight-so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation” (59). In the same way, a proletariat is also a slave to the upper class, endlessly working in hopes to someday acquire a stable salary; this causing them to miss out on living and enjoying their life. Similarly, Victor “[was] always a prisoner, and perhaps most when he believed himself to be free forced to labor on a project whose ultimate meaning he remained ignorant [to]” (478). Although a working class individual perhaps never sees themselves as “free” like Frankenstein did in working, Victor can be seen as a proletariat because of the constant oppression and pressure he put on himself to create something great.

– Juanita Espinoza

After reading “The Workshop of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein by Warren Montag, I can see why some people would identify Frankenstein’s monster as a proletariat. The monster seems like the perfect personification of the industrial working class of Marxism. He was created by Frankenstein to serve him and to serve as an example of what could be created. Some argue that the monster was created by technology. he is the ultimate creation of technology. Because he was created by technology they argue he is a slave to technology just as the working class are a slave to their elite leaders. There is also the argument that Frankenstein’s monster that he evokes pity and fear just as the working class does. Everyone pities but do they do it out of fear or sympathy? One of the “stronger” arguments made is that Frankenstein’s monster is representative of multiple individuals just like the working class is representative of the working class. These are all interesting points but they are very loose and not really based off of any truth. No where in the novel is there a strong sense of Mary Shelley, consciously or unconsciously inserting the industrialization of Marxism into the monster. The arguments brought up are weak because the pity felt for the monster is caused by his loneliness unlike the working class.  The pity felt for the working class is because of their situation and poverty. The fear of the creature is caused by prejudices, because he looks funny. The fear of the working class comes out of being afraid of their actions and possible revolt. Frankenstein’s monster is a slave, a slave to his own desire of revenge and desire to be accepted. None of the connections really are connections just loose based assumptions. If we focus on things that are omitted, industrialization is omitted, there are no factories no work, just nature. Frankenstein is a misunderstood individual not a proletariat as some people try to project onto him.

  • Andres Quezada

Capitalism creates oppressive conditions for working-class proletariat that belittle their value as individuals and their existence. Warren Montag’s essay, “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein” examines how the the plight of the proletariat by the wealthy bourgeoisie is reflected in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Montang concludes that Frankenstein’s monster is “not so much the sign of the proletariat as of its unrepresentability” (480). I agree with Montag that the monster is a sign of the proletariat’s unrepresentability, considering the monster’s devaluation and grievances.

Under capitalism, the proletariats, are alienated not only from the products of their labor but also themselves. The poor workers labor and produce but, because of meager wages, they will likely never have the means to afford these products no matter how much they exhaust themselves. The proletariat are also alienated from their sense of self as labor consumes their identity and their individuality is lost. This is reflected in Shelley’s novel when Frankenstein’s monster says, “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labors. I found that the young [Felix] spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire; and, during the night, I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days” (102). One could argue that this decision to help the De Lacey family was the creature’s choice and not mandated onto him by the bourgeoisie. However, these actions were taken on as a means of survival the same way the excruciating work of the proletariat is the only way under capitalism, other than a revolution, that they can continue living. The monster’s labor is done in an effort to be recognized by the family as a benevolent being and be accepted into human society instead of being an outcast as he was made by Frankenstein and other humans. The family, who possess social capital, decides what fate the monster receives just as the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, determine how much impoverished workers are compensated. The parties who actually benefit from the labor, however, is the family who does not have to collect their own wood and the capitalists who profit from selling the products produced by the poor, while the creature and the poor continue their exploited lives.

The capitalist, bourgeois society in which Frankenstein’s monster and poor laborers alienate themselves also alienates them from other ranks in society and deprives them of their humanity. Since the proletariat produces all the products and are seen as just means to an end, little importance is placed on their lives or concerns. Montag states that, “Utterly absent from the narrative is any description or explanation of the process by which the monster was created” (477). By having this absence that Montag mentions, there is distance created between the monster and the rest of society and indicates that his origins and existence is not a matter of importance because in the end he is just the lower class who will never reach anything beyond that ranking. Also, just as the bourgeoisie “reduc[ed] the numbers of workers necessary to the production process” in order to make way for technological “industrial developments” (472), the monster is immediately abandoned by Victor Frankenstein as soon as he is dissatisfied with the final result of his creation, alluding to the characterization of worthlessness placed on the working-class that could be disposed and replaced at any moment the bourgeoisie chose. This loss of humanity and commodification, is the “unrepresentability” Montag refers to. Because the proletariat are reduced to machines working for the benefit of the upper and middle classes, they are not supposed to have a voice or have themselves or their concerns represented. The monster’s failed efforts at social mobility and his lack of power and authority not only mirror the proletariat but also marginalize him within the frame of the novel, eliminating his power to represent and voice himself within the novel as well. It is through this unrepresentability that Frankenstein’s monster represents that of the proletariat class under the oppressive conditions and unjust conditions of capitalism.  

The proletariat are monsters because of the monstrous, classist economic system developed by the rich, ruling, capitalists. The bourgeoisie did produce a product…economic servitude and the existence of the impoverished, disenfranchised proletariat. However, unlike the products forced onto the proletariat class, they receive capital that they will continue to use to exploit them, help themselves, and maintain the cycle of capitalism.

– Wendy Gutierrez

After reading “The ‘Workshop of Filthy Creation’: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein,” I concluded that the creature was not so much a proletariat, rather more of “a factitious totality assembled from (the parts of) of a multitude of different individuals (Goldner), in particular, the “poor,” the urban mass….” (473) This creature does not belong in any class thus he’s and outsider and was created in a lab where he was later abandoned and was left to fend for himself. As Montag described the “monster is a product rather than a creation, assembled and joined together…” (473) Hence, the monster is not remotely human although he tries to be he fails immensely and is instead consider a product where he doesn’t fit in any of the classes. Warden Montag argues that Frankenstein’s creation was “not so much the sign of the proletariat at its unrepresentablilty,” and I agree with his interpretation because the creature was not a working-class individual, however he represented the ideal of the proletariat throughout the novel.

The creature was created by Mary Shelley to up rise toward the (bourgeoisie) which was Victor Frankenstein in this case and demand the power the monster should have received. Along the same lines, Montag included “But in going so they found that they had conjured up a monster that, once unleashed, could not be controlled.” (471) This quote shows how once the proletariats join in multitude they can unleash their power then lead to anarchy. Going back to the creature he is portrayed as a proletariat and ready to claim back what he should have received when he was created by his creator. The monster illustrates this when he reverses the characters and when “his creation, far more powerful than he, calls him “slave.” This indicates how with enough power and dignity one could lead demands that go way beyond rational. In a way this quote also symbolizes irony because the creator usually has the upper hand and in this case the creature revolutionized and ended up switching positions.

 

Guadalupe Andrade

By: Katherine Hernandez

When reading a work of literature as iconic as Frankenstein, readers tend to develop very different and sometimes controversial interpretations. In the essay, The “Work of Filthy Creation”: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein by Warren Montag, the reader is left with the interpretation that Frankenstein’s creation is the bourgeoisie in the book and that Victor is the proletariat who is terrorized by the demands of this creation. However, from my point of view, Frankenstein’s creation is, in fact, the embodiment of the working class, the proletariat side of society. Montag constantly compares the creation to the intricate work of new technology that was being introduced during the era Mary Shelley wrote and published her book, at times even calling that Victor is rightfully so to be afraid of his creation because it symbolizes the fear of the proletariat in this time of changes in society and the technological advances that came with it. He gathers historical context from Mary Shelley’s time such as the rise of the Industrial Revolution in order to convince the reader that the rise of technology was monstrous much like the creation and thus Victor had every right to be afraid of it, however, the question arises. Should we blame technology for simply doing what it is meant to do? Or is the thing at fault the creator itself? Montag created a hole in his argument, one cannot simply blame things for taking their natural course, we must hold those who created these things, such as technology, responsible. Victor’s creation is the most effortless symbolism of the working class not only during Mary Shelley’s time but also in a time that transcends her era.

The passage in chapter 20 of the novel, pages 145-146, clearly depicts how the creature is the living, breathing embodiment of the proletariat struggle. Throughout the whole novel we are able to see how The Creation struggles with fitting into to social norms and his constant struggle with dehumanization of isolation. Most of his life is spent in longing, spent in a headspace of having hopes and dreams and wanting more out of life. This is especially evident when Frankenstein retracts his promise to his creation and The Creation mourns for his struggles in life recalling his “toil and misery….[his] impeccable fatigue, [the] cold and hunger, [and Victor still] dares to destroy his hopes and dreams.” (145) The Creation is the poster child for the working class struggle. Victor is, in fact, the bourgeoisie who continually makes false promises to the working class in order to continue exploiting them. This passage greatly contradicts with Warren Montag’s ideas of Victor’s creation. The Creation fits in every shape and form to the working class’ constantly mistreated, the underdog, the ones with hopes and dreams that are much to often destroyed by the bourgeois in order to keep the gears of the capitalistic operation running.